“No way, no how.” Jack Rabbit crossed his paws over his pirate wanna-be-chest and glowered at Aesop Owl. “I am not running a sack race with no turtle, savvy?”
Owl glowered right back. “You agreed to run the Speedbo race, Jack. You can’t back out now.”
Jack downed his third cup of swamp rum. This could not be happening. He eyed Jill Rabbit as she and her partner giggled and hopped around in circles, their cute little running ears flopping wildly. Well, he might be induced to participate in the race after all. “Can we draw again?”
“No.” Owl flapped his wings in finality. “Rules are rules and everybody put their names in the Easter basket. What’s done is done, so I suggest you get on out there and make the best of it.”
“But me and Bubba T?”
“Yes, you and Bubba T. Now git.” Owl shooed him away and flew to the starting line. “All right, everybody. Find your partners and grab your sack. This is a three-legged race, so you’ve got to depend on your partner. You both have to make it to the finish line on the other side of the swamp or you’re disqualified.”
Bubba T. (T. for Tenacious, not turtle, contrary to popular opinion) Bulldog lumbered up to the starting line and waited. Owl fluttered his wings at Jack and pushed him into place, then tied their legs together.
“Ready, set, go!” Owl hooted and the race was on.
Jill and her perky girlfriend squealed and bounded off down the trail. Jack scowled at his leg tied to Bubba T.’s. “Let’s go, Bubba T!”
“I’m goin’,” Bubba T. growled.
“Ugh, you call this going?” Jack jerked his leg forward, but pulling against the loggerhead turtle’s leg was like pulling against a tree trunk. They weren’t going anywhere fast.
Suddenly, Jack had an idea. Owl didn’t say how they got there, as long as they did it together. Jack hoisted Bubba T. upside down over his shoulder and sprinted forward. “Yes! This is what I’m talkin’ about, ya ken?”
Bubba T. groaned. “Oh, oh, my head is spinning. Put me down, Jack.”
“Not on your life, matey! We’re gonna win this thing, or I’m not Capt’n Jack Rabbit of the Black Pearl Swamp.”
“There is no Black Pearl Swamp, Jack.” Bubba T. pulled his head and legs inside his shell and moaned. “I think I’m going to be siiiiickkkk!!!”
Jack ran and ran, and ran some more. He passed Jill and her girlfriend, and he could tell they were impressed that he could carry Bubba T. and still run faster than anybody in the race. He winked at them and promised swamp rum for all when the race was over.
Up one hill, then down another, toward the swamp he ran. All too soon, his legs grew weary, and his arms began to ache from carrying Bubba T. When they came to the edge of the swamp, Jack’s strength gave out. He dropped Bubba T., flopped down and closed his eyes. He’d rest just a minute, then they’d go on.
“What?” He opened one eye to find Bubba T. glaring cross-eyed at him, upside down on the path. “Oh, sorry.” He flipped Bubba T. over and the loggerhead wobbled around on shaky legs like a pot-bellied pirate who’d had too much rum.
“You okay, matey?”
Bubba T.’s shook his massive head. “Just a little dizzy. I’ll be okay in a minute. Why’d we stop? You finally run out of steam?”
Never in a million years would Jack admit to being tired. “No, wise guy. Just catching my breath. It ain’t easy carrying a loggerhead turtle, you know.”
Just at that moment, Jill Rabbit and her friend bounded down the path, hollered howdy-do and hopped on by, following the path around the swamp toward the finish line.
Jack made a grab for Bubba T., but Bubba was ready for him, and backed away. “Uh-huh, not this time.”
“But, Bubba T., Jill’s gonna win. Come on!”
“Jack, you can barely stand up, let alone carry me all the way around the swamp. You can’t do this on your own.” Bubba T.’s beady eyes shifted, looked at the swamp, then back at Jack. “But we can win this race another way. Hop on.”
“You’re kidding, right? You’re going to carry me around the swamp and we’re going to beat Jill?” Jack fell down on the ground, grabbed his stomach, and howled with laughter.
“Nope, I can’t go around the swamp, but I can go through it. So if you want to win this race, you’re gonna have to let me carry you the rest of the way.”
Jack eyed Bubba T., then he eyed the swamp. It would be good to just ride along for a while. He might even take a short nap. He grinned and hopped on Bubba T.’s shell. “You’re on.”
Bubba swam the swamp in record time, and Jack sunned himself on top of the turtle until they got to the other side. As Bubba lumbered out on to dry ground, they could see Jill and her girlfriend coming in the distance. The girls’ ears were drooping, but they still in the race.
The loggerhead and the rabbit hitched legs and started toward the finish line as fast as they could lumber-hop-lumber-hop-lumber-hop.
Jack tossed his arm around Bubba T.’s shell as they crossed the finish line. “Well, matey, a little bit of Speedbo, a little bit of tenacity, and a lot of ingenuity, and we made it!”
Who's gonna cross the finish line
with Bubba T. & Jack this year???
Come on, YOU can do it!
Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in
and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In
those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning
and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her
if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay
doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making
up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream
Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com